‘The state’s real goal is not to promote non-discriminatory child placements, but to stamp out St. Vincent’s religious belief and replace it with the state’s own…’
Due to its religious convictions, St. Vincent Catholic Charities chooses to place children in homes with one man and one woman.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel attempted to force the adoption agency to include LGBT couples in its list of potential foster parents as well, a move that Judge Robert Jonker said targeted the religious beliefs of the agency.
“The state’s real goal is not to promote non-discriminatory child placements, but to stamp out St. Vincent’s religious belief and replace it with the state’s own,” Jonker wrote in his opinion.
Nessel had tried to argue that St. Vincent’s religious preferences illegally discriminated against LGBT couples. This argument raises “a strong inference of a hostility toward a religious viewpoint,” Jonker said in the court opinion.
St. Vincent helps place Michigan’s 13,000 foster children in loving, protective homes. The Catholic adoption agency is one of the state’s most successful groups, according to Becket, a non-profit legal firm that represented the agency in court.
“St. Vincent has been with us every step of our journey: answering every phone call, coming with us to doctor’s appointments, even bringing us food, as we strive to give our five beautiful children the best future they can have,” said Melissa Buck, a foster parent who adopted through St. Vincent.
“St. Vincent brought our family together, and I’m happy to know they can keep doing their great work helping children find homes,” she said.
St. Vincent argued that Nessel’s anti-discrimination law would prevent hundreds of children from finding the homes they need. Thanks to Jonker’s ruling, though, they can continue to serve Michigan’s foster community.
“Our nation is facing a foster care crisis, and we are so glad that Michigan’s foster children will continue having all hands on deck to help them find loving forever homes,” Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket, said in a statement.
“The Bucks and St. Vincent Catholic Charities won a victory in Michigan, but there is still work to be done to ensure that faith-based agencies can contribute to ending our nation’s foster care crisis.”